Although the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, the UFC Apex facility remains as a reminder of darker days. In 2020, this small cage venue was used to host isolated events when COVID-19 restrictions prevented large crowds.
Nowadays, the smaller cage is reserved for Fight Nights, while pay-per-views get more traditional venues. But the Apex is distinct because it's significantly smaller than normal Octagons, and that means there's typically more violence, as fighters are forced to slug it out.
How does that affect betting, though? Let's find out.
Why Use a Smaller Cage And What’s The Difference?
The venue is essentially a training center for the athletes and is used for Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter, so the full-size cage isn’t exactly needed.
So what’s the big deal, you may ask?
UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik, the best in the business in my opinion, tweeted out that the 25-foot cage is 30.5 percent smaller than the larger cage.
Per bossman @ZachCandito, the 25-foot Octagon is 30.5% (!) smaller than the larger 30-footer. It’s 518 sq. ft v. 745 sq. ft. That’s a big deal. Can’t say which one I prefer, honestly, but I really feel it’s a game-changer in many respects and fighters should account for it...— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) June 7, 2020
Smaller Cage = More Action
The smaller Octagon doesn’t just benefit a striker, as you may assume. Sure, there is less room to move and if you’re not sharp on your footwork, you can quickly find yourself against the cage facing a barrage of strikes. That said, it also works for a grappler to be able to close the distance more effectively and get the fight to the floor, or push an opponent up against the cage to work toward a takedown.
UFC Apex: Smaller Cage Betting Trends
|Cage Size||Fights||Favorites Record||Knockouts||Submissions||Decisions||OVER 1.5 Rounds||Finish Percentage|
|25-Foot||78*||45-29-1-1 (57.69%)||25||17||34||49 (62.8%)||53.84|
*One fight in the 25-foot cage was a no contest and one fight was ruled a draw
High Finish Rate, Lots of Submissions
As you might expect, fights in the smaller cage frequently end in a stoppage. At 53.84%, it's same to assume Apex fights finish more frequently than regular 30-foot Octagon fights. In 2023, there have been 25 knockouts (which checks out) but also 17 submissions — that's the more interesting part. Submissions appear to be up in the UFC this season, and we've also noticed a similar trend on our flyweight UNDERs page. Seven of the first 14 UFC flyweight events ended by submission, and the Apex is a big part of narrowing that gap.
37.2% of fights finish UNDER 1.5 Rounds
Although 7.5 minutes isn't a lot of time, 27 Apex fights have ended UNDER 1.5 rounds this year. That's a pretty impressive statistic. There have been some heavyweight headliners (think Sergei Pavlovich vs Curtis Blaydes) that'll boost that trend, but also events such as UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Hill, where nine of 12 fights go OVER 1.5 rounds. Interestingly, in the Dern vs Hill card, five fights still finished inside the distance despite some early OVERs.
It appears, for the time being at least, the best strategy is to bet fights to end INSIDE THE DISTANCE and count on that elevated 53.84 finish rate.